Friday, June 08, 2007

Because I Won't Be Alive Forever


Forty-three years ago tomorrow my infantile lungs filled with oxygen for the first time as I emerged into a new world. On that day my mother was a tender eighteen years of age, while her mother was exactly forty-five. Tomorrow is the first time in forty-three years that my grandmother and I will not both be alive to share a birthday separated by forty-five years. It reminds that I won't be alive forever.

According to those who know, the average male in the United States will live about 72 years. If that holds true for me, then I am already halfway there, so it impels me to do today what I think is important. None of us has any guarantee for tomorrow, and there are some things that matter to me.

One of the things that has mattered a great deal to me over the past eleven years has been my children. They grow up so quickly, and I want to leave them with many memories and connections with their father, however long I may live. With our kids now ranging in age from eleven to twenty, I recognize with humility how fleeting are the moments parents and children share together.

So, this morning, the first day of summer vacation for our at-home children, and my standard day off, I initiated a little adventure. On this sun-drenched beautifully mild early summer Minnesota day we traveled 125 miles away to visit the Mystery Cave State Park. What an interesting journey we had. I am choosing to excise from my memory the standard bickering, nit-picking, mutually annoying behaviors of the six children in my vehicle so that I can remember what a glorious day we had together. We spent an hour together some forty feet below the earth's surface in the Mystery Cave, where a very fine guide regaled us with the geologic splendors of subterranean experience. We had the opportunity to see two brown bats affixed to the walls of the cave, numerous stalactites and stalagmites (who knows the difference?!) and a consistent 48 degrees temperature (year-round). The kids enjoyed the time there, and we have spent some time since discussing the fun we had.

We ate a picnic lunch together in the park, then three of us hiked together (they are pictured above), and the other three stayed behind to toss a frisbee. I have decided that I will filter out the positive experiences, leave behind the negative pieces of our time together, and be grateful I have the opportunity to spend nice times with several of my children.

I'm hoping we have the opportunity to do this often during the summer months, because I won't be alive forever.

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